Shocking allegations of bullying at Sellafield nuclear site have been made – including that a contract worker wet herself after she was banned from going to the toilet during her shift.

The fresh claims were revealed by a source exclusively to in-Cumbria sister title, The Whitehaven News and refer to Mitie employees working on the Sellafield site. 

Mitie, which strongly denies the claims, is contracted to deliver services including security, cleaning and catering. 

The source told of an incident involving two Mitie guards who were refused permission to go to the toilet for several hours. 

“Despite numerous phone calls to their senior supervisor they were told they could not go to the loo. One of the male employees had to urinate in a bottle and the other, who was female, couldn’t wait any longer and she wet herself. 

“When they finally got off shift the girl had to go home on the train in her soiled clothing, as no clothing was supplied. She was terrified to say anything.” 

It is understood that following an internal investigation, the senior supervisor was demoted and put to work on the gates, side by side with those they bullied.

Canteen staff are also said to be suffering due to bullying. The source said they are made to take their main break 30 minutes into the shift, which can last up to 12 hours to cover for holidays. They highlighted serious concerns over staff’s health, with a high number of people being off with stress. Canteen workers are said to be placed in roles they have no training for, to cover for staff on long-term sickness.

A Mitie spokesman said: “We take any allegations regarding bullying and the health and safety of our staff very seriously, and all grievances raised are investigated fully with the necessary actions taken.”

Responding to claims made about canteen staff being made to take a main break 30 minutes into a 12-hour shift, Mitie said staff are able to take additional unpaid breaks on top of standard break entitlement. Mitie also maintains any overtime is voluntary and undertaken on a rota agreed with employees.

Mitie’s Unite union members have been on strike for the last two weeks in a row over pay. The dispute is a result of staff rejecting Mitie’s pay offer, with workers receiving £8.45 an hour. Around 180 Unite members are on a second period of strikes, which end on Monday (May 13), and are set to walk out again for a further 10 days on Sunday, May 19.

A letter revealing attempts by Mitie to intimidate staff has been leaked to The Whitehaven News. 

The letter, written by Unite to Mitie’s management, threatens legal action over the company’s alleged intimidation. 

It says staff were asked to disclose which union they were members of and how they voted in the ballot for strike. Staff were also allegedly threatened with disciplinary action if they refused to disclose the information. 

A Mitie spokesman strongly refuted that it had intimidated striking staff.

“Claims of intimidation against those taking part in industrial action are unfounded – in fact we have actively encouraged trade union membership to our employees working at the site,” they said.

“We have arranged cover to ensure the normal continuation of services across the sites and minimise any potential disruption.”

Mitie only recognises the GMB union. It has over 500 staff working at Sellafield, including cleaners, catering staff and grounds maintenance. 

Meanwhile, Unite said it had “upped the ante” in its dispute over what it described as “poverty pay” for Mitie workers at Sellafield.

Its general secretary, Len McCluskey sent a video message to warn Mitie that if it “continues to harass and bully our members taking legitimate strike action, the whole of Unite will come down on your heads”.

Regional officer Ryan Armstrong said: “The totally solid support of our members demonstrates that Mitie’s attempts to bully and harass them has rebounded and resulted in hardening our members resolve to secure a decent pay rise.
“The strike action is having a huge effect on Sellafield’s operations with the canteen now barely functioning and workers reporting how quickly buildings have become dirty.
“Mitie bosses need to see sense and return to the negotiating table with the understanding that poverty pay rates must end at Sellafield.”

On the accusations raised by The Whitehaven News, he added: “The health, safety and welfare of workers across the entire Sellafield site is being damaged by the policies and procedures being operated by management at Sellafield. 

“Unite will do everything in its power to ensure that its members are treated with dignity at work and that the inherent deep-rooted bullying culture is expunged from the operation.”

A spokesman for Sellafield Ltd stressed it was not directly involved in the dispute and that it did not involve any of its employees.

They added: “We are taking steps to mitigate the impact of the industrial action, to ensure there are no implications on safety and security surrounding our operations at Sellafield. As always, the safety and security of the Sellafield site, our workforce, and the local community is our priority during any industrial action.”